Thursday, 30 May 2013

New Beginnings - The Wake #1

Scott Snyder is a writer that I'm really enjoy reading the work of, so upon the news that I would be reviewing his new title The Wake, I was obviously excited.

Snyder has produced one of my favourite runs on Batman, but being on the mainstream DC label has sometimes meant that it has had certain constraints in terms of tone. The Wake however is being launched on Vertigo, another tick in a box for me as the label often comes up with some gems aimed at a more mature audience.

The story is broken into four main sections starting with a glimpse into the future with a teaser called The Quest. In a ruined, drowned city, we meet a lone scout and her friendly dolphin.

It’s a freak tidal wave that sends the story crashing back 200 years to The Call where we meet Dr Archer, a prominent scientist who has fallen out with certain government agencies in the past. Her expertise is desperately needed - and not easily gained - but her scientific curiosity draws her in with a recording of an underwater sound that is as familiar to her as it is alien.

This leads us to Base Camp, where a number of other significant heads from their respective fields are gathered. It’s only when they reach their prototype and illegal base facility that the real interest begins. All of them have been given different reasons to be there, all told different stories and what they needed to hear.

However, like blind men describing an elephant nothing matches even closely, but all are required to analyse the same thing. On entering the structure something has clearly gone horribly wrong and a man is in desperate need of medical attention. All the while the same noise that Archer was drawn to can be heard, leading her to the focus of all their attentions on the source. An imprisoned and monstrous aquatic individual.

To add further mystery, the final phase of the issue is The Storyteller, set 100,000 years ago. It shows a Neolithic man painting caves, who uses an alien device and which costs him his eyes. For what reason we don’t know yet but it will all slowly unfold.

Sean Murphy is the artist for this issue (known for his own recent title Punk Rock Jesus) and his pencils worked really well. When I first saw the issue it immediately reminded me of Kristian Donaldson’s work from on The Massive, or Chris Mooneyham’s work from Five Ghosts, and it fits with the story to a great degree. It isn’t overly defined but still gives a lot of detail. The facial expressions and body language on all of the characters are very emotive, with many of the frames not requiring scripting to convey personality or an idea. A slightly novel depiction in the work, is that sound effects are added to the frames. Not quite a camp as the Sixties' Batman but still making a presence and adding to the comic in a way not often seen in modern comics.

Normally I’m not one to enjoy a comic that doesn’t really tell you much in its inception, and to be honest this issue hasn’t really gone to great lengths to define where this series is going. However, there's just the right amount of information there in the groundwork to set the scene, whilst leaving you with open questions needing answers.

I really enjoyed this as a first issue. Personally it shouldn't be a case of if you should get this comic, but more when. The answer is now!

Matt Puddy is pleased this first issue made such a splash!

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